Maybe it’s Just Me

[An update from March 29, 2017] I am diligent about conserving water.  Turning off light switches.  Turning off the car rather than wasting gas – and polluting the environment.  Recycling.  Since 2008, I have promoted my registered trademark – JUST TURN IT OFF® – whenever and wherever I can. To get people to be aware of our fragile environment – and to take steps to protect it.  I’ve frequently posted on the subject of conservation.  If you want to see what rankles me, see April 10, 2016.  

That said, I continue to have questions about climate change.  It’s not a scientific law.  Nor a theory.  Or a hypothesis.  It is a consensus.  Of some people.   It’s interesting that there are scientists and respectable folks with differing views on the subject.  But have you noticed how those who raise questions about climate change are put down?  Vilified?  By some politicians. And the “media.” By those who have drunk the Kool Aid (“Eeek!  He’s asking questions!”)?  Great.  That’s really productive. But why silence those who ask questions about climate change?  Why squelch discussion?    What ever happened to civil discourse? Most folks agree that shutting down carbon emissions and pollution is needed. But how about some constructive discussion on the underlying topic. By all sides.  Since discussion, analysis, diagnosis and then consensus may be more productive. And help solve our world’s environmental problems.

Little Feet

[A valuable summer repeat from November 26, 2017]  When I was about 10 years old, I pestered my father to let me drive the family car.  Sooooo. . . . one Sunday, my dad let me drive home from Church.  Not all the way – but the last mile or so — on a road that was pretty vacant and ran in part along a corn field. I’d sit there peering over the steering wheel – my father with one hand on the wheel, one hand on the ignition and one hand on the gear shift.  From then on, I was the “Chuber” driver (“CHurch UBER“) on Sundays.  

Sometimes, my dad would take me to an empty parking lot and let me drive.  Round and round.  So I “learned” to drive at a pretty early age. When Lauren was about 12, I let her “drive” on occasional Saturday afternoons in our Church parking lot.  

My father had a lot of wisdom to impart to me in my formative years (which – Donna comments – are still in progress).  My dad always told me when driving to keep my “eyes moving.”  Watching.  Left.  Right.  Check the mirrors.  And he always told me to watch for “little feet.”  As I drive along a street, I was told to glance forward — under the cars parked along the street.  Why?  Because you can see if there are little feet — on the other side — below the car.  And you can slow down.  It’s easy to see an adult standing by a car.  But there’s no way to see a child unless you see the “little feet” under the car you are approaching. 

I’m always watching for “little feet.”  Try it next time you’re driving.  Keep an eye out for little feet. . . . .

Sure Enough. . . .

Hours after I posted on “Intellectual Property,” the Biden Administration announced exactly what I wrote about — the hijacking of American patents relating to the Covid vaccine. That’s just great.

Moderna invested 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars – developing the original mRNA technology. In the last few weeks Moderna turned its first profit. Now the pharmaceutical industry achieves a miracle in the space of one year and what happens? As the Wall Street Journal said: “In one fell swoop [Biden] has destroyed tens of billions of dollars in U.S. intellectual property, set a destructive precedent that will reduce pharmaceutical investment, and surrendered America’s advantage in biotech. . . .”

Angela Merkel has roundly criticized the decision to rip off the patents of pharma companies – “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future.” Other European governments feel the same way. But not America. . . .

Kimberly Strassel reported that “. . . the precedent of willy-nilly canceling patents will prove cataclysmic for drug innovation and health.” As I said in my earlier post – when a dreaded disease comes knocking on your door, where’s the incentive to help? The pharmaceutical companies will shrug their shoulders and say “why bother. . . .”

I am deeply concerned by this ransacking of intellectual property. And a lot of other things. You should be too.

Intellectual Property

A family member has a dreaded disease. The clock is winding down. Pain. Agony. Prayers. At the bedside. And then [name your drug company] comes up with a cure. A medicine that not only treats but remediates the illness of your family member. They take the medicine. And slowly – with tears of joy – they begin to improve. And they heal.

Let’s say that the miracle medicine costs all of $10.00 to produce. And yet the cost to you – or your insurance company – is $200.00. Fair? Let’s say the drug company invested $257,000,000 on research for this drug. And they have a series of patents on all aspects of the drug. And by charging $200.00 per dosage, they are recouping their investment – and making a modest profit. Fair? In 2019, pharmaceutical companies spent 186 billion dollars on research.

Today – some political groups seek to nullify patents. Regulate profits. Commandeer rights in a company’s investment in research, development – and healing. A few countries already do this.

To me, one of the most important words in the English language is – “incentive” (please see post of May 6, 2018). We have incentive to obey traffic lights. To work. Take the dog out. To go to our doctors. To attend a church or synagogue. Recycle. To contribute to charity. To be kind to others. And to develop healing remedies that will help humanity.

As an intellectual property lawyer (now retired), I have respect for the intellectual property of individuals and businesses. And for investments made by corporate America – to come up with knowledge, ideas, technology and medicines to cure disease. I understand that businesses need to be fair in recouping their investments. Most are. But the inclination to deny reimbursement for expenditures, deny profits for shareholders or nullify patents – is shortsighted.

When your family member has a dreaded disease. The clock is winding down. Pain. Agony. Prayers. At the bedside. And [the drug company of your choice] decides it is no longer worth it to invest in research – just remember. That when you stifle incentive, lots of things disappear . . . . .

There is this Girl. . . .

[A repeat from July 10, 2016] There is this girl. Her name is Lisa.  She is captivating and I’ve admired her for a long time. Donna is vaguely aware of my interest in Lisa but she let’s it go.  I have gone on websites to read about Lisa.  And there was one occasion some years ago when our paths actually crossed.  It was in Paris.  There she was.  And I stood. Watching her.  For quite a while.  From about thirty feet away.  Lisa’s last name is Gherardini.

I guess I’m not the only guy in the world who has had a special interest in Lisa.  You see Lisa Gherardini is — the Mona Lisa.  

Lisa – the young wife of Francesco del Gioconda – was painted by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) between 1503 and 1506.  However Leonardo – who claimed he “never completed a single work” – continued to refine Lisa after he moved to France.  He may have applied the final touches of paint in 1516 or 1517.

After Leonardo’s death, the painting was purchased by Francis I of France.  Louis XIV moved Lisa to the Palace of Versailles – and after the Revolution, Lisa was placed in the Louvre.  In 1911, Lisa was stolen by a Louvre employee – Vincenzo Peruggia – who felt that Lisa should be returned to Italy.  Peruggia’s theft was discovered two years later when he tried to sell Lisa to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  There have been several attempts to deface Lisa – but she continues smiling seductively – behind layers of bulletproof glass.

The aesthetics of da Vinci’s painting are nuanced.  Lisa is sitting upright with hands folded in a reserved attitude.  There is an imaginary landscape behind Lisa which introduces for the first time an “aerial perspective.”  Lisa is considered the most famous painting in the world.  And the most valuable – with an estimated worth of $782,000,000.   I can’t wait to cross paths with Lisa again. . . . .